Walk-On’s hires three franchising experts

The parent company of Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar has hired three executives to help prepare the Baton Rouge restaurant for franchising locations across the Gulf Coast from Texas to Georgia.

Scott Taylor, president and COO of Walk-On’s Enterprises, said the company plans to file franchise disclosure documents by the end of the year. The plan is to grow the restaurant chain from its base in Louisiana.

“If we’re going to go to a multiunit operation, we need highly experienced executives to raise the game for us,” Taylor said.

Walk-On’s has “internal ideas” as to how fast the company wants the franchising to progress, but Taylor said the plan is to grow organically, with the help of good franchise operators. “We’re optimistic we can attract the right people,” he said.

The new hires announced Tuesday are Craig Schlick, vice president of development; Mike Turner, vice president of culinary training; and Shauna Reader, director of training.

Schlick worked with Tampa, Florida-based FSC Franchise Co., where he built and opened Beef ‘O’ Brady’s and other restaurants in the United States and in the Middle East. Turner spent 18 years with The Cheesecake Factory, opening franchises domestically and in the Middle East. Reader has served as director of training for Hooters of Louisiana since 2001.

Walk-On’s, which was founded in Baton Rouge nearly 11 years ago, now has four locations: two in Baton Rouge and one each in New Orleans and Lafayette. But that number is expected to jump to seven restaurants by 2015, in advance of the franchising. A scaled-down restaurant, Walk-On’s Halfcourt, is under construction in downtown Baton Rouge and is set to open in the fall. The Halfcourt location could be a model for future franchise restaurants in downtown areas.

Work is expected to begin in October on a Houma Walk-On’s, which will be built on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. That restaurant should open in late spring 2015, Taylor said. Also opening in 2015 will be a Zachary location, in the Americana traditional neighborhood development.

Follow Timothy Boone on Twitter, @TCB_TheAdvocate.